Hotel is the first release for Moby since 2002’s lack luster 18. In many ways Hotels is probably Moby’s last chance to be relevant to popular music, something I am not convinced he ever wanted to be in the first place. It’s almost as if Moby’s way of dealing with celebrity is to secretly try to derail his own career.
Hotel starts off with an anthem driven fast rhythm track, Raining Again. A song that despite its upbeatness still manages to be a bit whinny: “Everything I tried to say/but no one listens anyway/I had to give up all that I knew.” Raining Again flows into the obvious radio single that I have yet to hear on the radio, Beautiful. Beautiful is a more straight ahead rock song, with an honest to god guitar solo. The lyrics are hard to take literally, two famous people singing to each other about how beautiful they are. Most people probably won’t realize this track is more than likely tongue in cheek and not an actual love song.
Lift Me Up comes up next and is one of the strongest tracks on the disc with deep dark and pounding, classic Moby, the good not boring side. The lyrics aren’t don’t make much of an impression but the song still manages to set a strong emotional mood. Where You End starts out as a piano based track then shifts into a strong bass line with soaring syth. The lyrics stand out as some of the best on Hotel, “What if the right part of leaving turned out to be wrong/If I could kiss you now again and again/I don’t know where I begin and where you end.” And like all effective relationships songs it is full of longing for a place or person that just isn’t achievable.
Changing pace, Temptation is Hotel’s first real slow track. Moby plays a classic card here by utilizing a female vocalist over his minimalist percussion and soaring strings. While certainly not offensive, the track drones into the background even when you are trying to purposefully listen to it.
Spiders comes back at us more upbeat yet it is in essentially nonsensical Mobyspeak, “Come back to us spiders/Come uncrush my hands/Let peace and beauty reign/And bring us love again, like you can.” Is this track a direct reference to Wilco’s song of the same name from last years A Ghost Is Born? What is this attack of the spiders all of the sudden anyway?
It’s at this point that Hotel really takes a nose drive. The last seven tracks are mostly droning repetition. Slow tracks with female vocals that could have just as easily been from Play or 18. In fact, there is no real way to tell that they weren’t recorded in the late 1990’s. Slipping Away is the only one that holds much interest. This is mainly achieved with a more acoustic approach and a strong upfront vocal performance from Moby.
Overall Hotel is more a collection of songs then an album. Not that this is necessarily a negative is the day and age of iTunes and mp3’s. But it’s obvious that some of these tracks just should have been cut altogether. After three albums that sounds exactly the same, Moby is turning into the AC/DC of DJ’s. I would have loved to have seen what a real producer could have done with these tracks. On his latest disc, Encore, Eminem labels Moby a has been. Nothing on Hotel disproves that.